There are probably a dozen ways of sending money that are easier than faxing a check. Nevertheless, doing so is still possible and legal, and you might find yourself in a situation where it’s your only choice.
If you ever need to fax a check, it’s important to follow a few steps to make sure it’ll work properly and that you’re doing it securely.
What To Know Before You Fax a Check
While most institutions moved on from faxing 20 or so years ago, the occasional business still relies on the ability to work with faxed checks. Some individuals also prefer faxing checks when they need to pay a business with a check by a certain deadline and wouldn’t be able to mail it in time.
Since a fax goes through instantly, it can help save you from late fees if you find yourself in that unlikely situation. Additionally, faxing a check is also secure because it leaves a paper trail for you to prove that you sent in the check by a certain date.
Lastly, although it is legal to fax a check throughout the United States and in most other countries, it’s still a good idea to check with the business you’re faxing the check to—as well as any local laws—to ensure that everything will go swimmingly.
Before you fax a check, you should:
- Confirm that the business accepts checks. In most cases, if you’re faxing a check to businesses, it’s because they’ve specifically requested you to do so. If they haven’t, double-check before you end up sending a faxed check that won’t be accepted.
- Find a fax machine or an online fax service. You can send faxes with almost any computer or cellphone if you use an online fax service, or you can go to a print shop or UPS store to use an analog fax machine. If you have your own Multi-Function Printer (MFP) at home, you might be able to send a fax using that.
- Make a photocopy of your check. Most fax machines require full-sized paper to send faxes, so a check is likely to be too small to put through the machine. Make a copy of the check first on printer paper, and hold onto the original.
- Draft a cover letter. Faxes need cover letters so the recipient knows what they’re getting. Write that you’re sending a check for a certain amount and include the reason you’re sending the check—for instance, “Payment for account 123.”
- Fill out the check memo. This can also be, “Payment for account 123,” or whatever the reason is that you’re sending the check. This goes in the memo field of the check itself.
- Keep the company’s contact information close by. You’ll obviously need the fax number, but you’ll also want to follow up with the business via phone or email as soon as you send the fax to make sure it went through.
What Is the Best Way to Fax a Check?
You can either send a fax the old-fashioned way by using an analog fax machine, or you can use an online fax service. There are pros and cons to each, though most people prefer to use an online fax service these days because of the convenience and lack of hardware.
Online fax services are generally very secure—especially if you’re using one that’s been designed for sending financial, legal, or healthcare documents. They’re generally very cheap, too, with a range of prices based on the volume of documents you need to send.
Additionally, online fax services allow you to send and receive faxes from anywhere, and without having to pay for a fax machine, paper, or ink toner. The whole process is more similar to sending a scan via email than the traditional process of sending a fax—you just type in a phone number instead of an email address.
That said, some online fax services may be less secure than using a traditional analog machine, so make sure to choose a reputable service.
Of course, if you’re working with a business that requires you to send faxes via an analog machine in the first place, then there’s not much you can do about that. Ultimately, you may have to fax using the preferred method of the person or business you’re sending the check to.
How to Fax a Check – Online Fax
Sending an online fax is usually straightforward. There are a number of easily accessible, low-cost fax services available online, from basic services that send simple faxes to more complex services that have all the bells and whistles of advanced security, fax history, email notifications, and more. In fact, if you have a VoIP phone service, chances are it already includes faxing as a function.
While the exact steps for sending a fax using an online service will vary depending on the service you choose, the steps will generally be the same.
Step 1: Get your documentation in the proper format.
While a traditional fax machine works like a copier or top-feed printer that requires you to put a document into a machine (which then scans and spits it out the other side), an online fax service requires you to scan or take a picture of your documents with your phone. Keep in mind that the particular service you’re working with will tell you which format your documents need to be in.
Step 2: Type in the fax number of the person or business you’re sending the fax to.
This usually happens on the next screen, and you’ll type in the fax number of the business or person you’re sending the fax to on a number pad, just like you do when you’re about to make a phone call. Make sure you add any extensions or country codes if you’re sending a fax outside of the US.
Step 3: Hit the send button.
Sometimes also labeled as a “Go” button, the send button is what actually sends the document to the recipient. You may want to double-check your documents one more time before you hit send because you can’t unsend a fax.
Step 4: Check for confirmation.
Most fax services will automatically show you a confirmation page once your fax has been sent, but sometimes you may need to request this depending on the service or the way the settings are configured with your online fax service. Either way, you should get this confirmation and follow up with the business to make sure not only that the fax you sent was received, but also that they can clearly read the account and routing numbers on the check.
Finally, make sure you’re aware of any potential security issues with online faxing, and take steps to mitigate them. While most online faxing services are highly secure, it’s worth taking the time to make sure the service you choose is reputable and has security safeguards in place.
For maximum security, look for services that have been around for a while, as well as those that are designed to comply with industry regulations like HIPAA. While you aren’t likely to be sending any healthcare information along with your check, merely complying with those kinds of regulatory measures is a good indication that it’s secure enough to cover financial matters as well.
How to Fax a Check – Traditional Fax
It’s still possible to send a check using a traditional fax machine, and some businesses may require you to do it this way. The process is very similar to sending an online fax, with a few adjustments.
Step 1: Find a fax machine.
If you don’t already have a fax machine at your home or office, you can often find one in co-working spaces and print shops. UPS also has public fax machines in many of its stores. If you need to find a place to photocopy your check, this can be a good bet too.
Step 2: Place your documents in the feeder at the top of the machine.
Once you’ve found your fax machine, place your documents—including your cover letter, the photocopy of your check, and anything else you need to send—face up in the document feeder on the top of the machine. The machine should have an icon showing you which way is up, but if you’re not sure, ask the person who owns the machine or refer to the manual. Otherwise, you could end up sending a blank fax.
Step 3: Type in the fax number of the person or business you’re sending the fax to.
Fax machines have number pads like traditional landline phones, so use that to type in the number of the person or business you’re sending the fax to. Again, be sure to add on any extensions or country codes as needed.
Step 4: Hit the send button.
On most machines, this looks like a big green button, and it usually says “Send” or “Start” on it.
Step 5: Get the confirmation page or check the fax log.
Most fax machines will automatically print out a confirmation page after your fax goes through, but if the one you’re using doesn’t, you may need to check the fax log. The machine should keep a record of all the faxes it’s sent and received, and you can often get the machine to print out a copy of that log so you have a paper trail. Finally, make sure to follow up with the business to make sure your fax has gone through and is legible on their end.
The main security concern with sending checks via analog fax machines is the possibility of issues with a public machine. You should only use fax machines from reputable places, and be aware of your surroundings while doing so. Trustworthy fax machines shouldn’t hold onto any of the information from your fax other than data about the fax being sent.
Lastly, another good idea is to make sure that the person or business you’re sending the fax to knows it’s coming, so they can be on the lookout for your fax and not leave it sitting in the machine for nosy people to go snooping.